Terrible news out of the East African nation of Uganda where politicians approved some of the world’s harshest anti-gay laws, making some crimes punishable by death and imposing up to 20 years in prison for people identifying as LGBTQ+.
In Uganda, same-sex relations are already illegal, punishable by life imprisonment. But this new law goes one step further, banning various activities and forbidding the open expression of homosexuality or the articulation of identifying or acting as LGBTQ, Reuters reported.
According to the severe new bill, the death penalty can be implemented for cases involving “aggravated homosexuality” – a vague term used to apply the legislation to a variety of circumstances.
“A person who commits the offense of aggravated homosexuality and is liable, on conviction to suffer death,” read the amendments, which were presented by the chairperson for legal and parliamentary affairs Robina Rwakoojo.
A Ugandan politician by the name of Asuman Basalirwa introduced the Anti Homosexuality Bill 2023 to parliament, saying it aims to “protect our church culture; the legal, religious and traditional family values of Ugandans from the acts that are likely to promote sexual promiscuity in this country.”
“The objective of the bill was to establish a comprehensive and enhanced legislation to protect traditional family values, our diverse culture, our faiths, by prohibiting any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex and the promotion or recognition of sexual relations between persons of the same sex,” Basalirwa said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
Politician Fox Odoi-Oywelowo has spoken out against the bill, saying it “contravenes established international and regional human rights standards” as it “unfairly limits the fundamental rights of LGBTQ+ persons.”
Ugandan LGBT advocate Frank Mugisha told Reuters that the law could lead to mass arrests of LGBTQ people and mob violence against them, leaving people scared of being outed.
“The last time the legislation was around, there were cases of suicide so, this time, this law is worse than the one that was here before because it has a death penalty and many people would be worried, many people would be scared,” said Mugisha. “We will go to all courts in Uganda. If need be, we will go to the international court as well but, we definitely have to go to court and challenge this law,” added Mugisha.
“One of the most extreme features of this new bill is that it criminalizes people simply for being who they are as well as further infringing on the rights to privacy, and freedoms of expression and association that are already compromised in Uganda,” Human Rights Watch Uganda researcher Oryem Nyeko said in a statement that called on politicians in the country to “stop targeting LGBT people for political capital.”